Liebster Award Nomination

liebster2

 

Firstly I’d like to say thank you for my first ever award nomination from Travel Geek Tara, it was a nice surprise so I’m happy to continue the chain.

The Liebster Award is an online award given out by fellow bloggers to new bloggers. It’s a great way to network and get your blog noticed.

The Rules:

  • Thank the blogger who gave it to you including a link back to their website.
  • Answer the eleven questions they ask you.
  • Nominate bloggers with less than 500 followers.
  • Ask those eleven bloggers eleven questions.
  • Let those bloggers know that they have been nominated so they can continue the chain.

Here are my answers to Travel Geek Tara:

1. If you could live in one country for the rest of your life which would it be?

Australia. I’ve visited twice, first time for 7 weeks then I went back for 6 months. Although expensive I could see myself settling there eventually.

2.What is your favourite travel souvenir and why?

I don’t have a particular favourite as I have way too many souvenirs. However 1 thing I love that I bought was some coal from Svalbard in the Norwegian Arctic, rather cool and unique!

3.Which mode of transport do you prefer when travelling?

I absolutely love trains, you can see more from the window of a train than 24 hours on a flight! Having travelled a lot by trains in Europe, Asia, Australia and South America I would love to get to every country by train.

4.What travel item could you not live without?

My MacBook and iPhone (sorry Apple freak here) they help me get around, write my blog and don’t take up much space.

5.How would you best describe your travel style? (Luxury, backpacking, middle of the road…?)

It depends on the trip, if it’s a holiday I try to do luxury as at the end of the day I’m away from work and want to enjoy a bit of luxury. However I’ve slummed it in some hideous parts of the world, I had my own wooden shack in Tonga which just happened to be above a pigs den so all night there were squeaks and squeals!

6.What inspires you to travel?

Although these days everybody is “travelling” not many people can truly say they are adventurous, they usually follow the crowds and don’t go off the beaten track. I like to break the norm and find unique things, it’s what keeps me alive and keeps me adventurous.

7.How do you promote your travel blog and what works best for you?

I’m quite new to the blog world, currently it’s just a hobby but I would love to eventually make it my business. I plan to eventually offer unique trips to destinations around the world and will use my blog to promote them and encourage people to visit with me.

8.Which social media site do you prefer and why?

Instagram is an amazing tool. I work in Social Media and you can write as much text as you like on Facebook/Twitter but a photo can say 1,000 words you cannot simply describe.

9.What travel books/guides do you use?

I’ve used Lonely Planet, Bradt and a few other guide books, they are okay but as my travels evolve I’m now more using the Internet and getting to know locals for advice and guidance as I find it more real.

10.Is there any place you never wish to visit?

I don’t have any huge desires to visit China or parts of Africa, if it’s deemed a homophobic country it puts me off immediately.

11.Where in the world are you now and what are you doing?

I live in London, currently it’s Saturday evening and surprise surprise I’m planning my next travel adventure. I’m visiting Serbia in just under 2 weeks time so I’m seeking out fantastic photo opportunities.

3 thoughts on “Liebster Award Nomination

  1. I really enjoyed reading your answers. I agree with the train travel, I love travelling by train , by day and overnight. Good luck with the rest of your travels, I’ll be looking out for the Serbia post 🙂

  2. Hi Matt, thought I would put the answers up on here for now as our blog section of the site isn’t up and running yet….

    1. What is your favourite country that you’ve visited and why?

    That’s a really difficult question! I have so many great memories from trips to various countries around the world that it’s hard to pick a certain one. Iran is certainly up there, with amazing people, food and tourist sites. But as a whole I would probably say Germany just edges it. It’s a place I always feel extremely comfortable in. Somewhere I could happily live. I’ve travelled extensively there and thoroughly enjoyed each region I’ve visited. I like the people, the cities, the nightlife and particularly the scenery in the South. And most of all the efficiency and reliability of their public transport! My first extensive trip there was in 2006 for the World Cup and that’s when I grew to love really love Germany. I’ve been back most years since and was in Berlin a couple of months ago djing at a friends club night. Berlin is one of my favourite cities in the world.

    2. Is there any country in the world you would not like to visit? If so why?

    There is no country in the world I wouldn’t visit. There are certainly parts of countries that I currently wouldn’t go anywhere near due to how dangerous they are but that’s the only reason I’d keep away from a certain place. As things are currently, I wouldn’t venture into Mogadishu in Somalia but I’d happily visit the Somaliland region. Likewise with the Kurdish region of Iraq compared to the rest of the country. As long as I am not putting my life in danger by visiting somewhere then I’d love to visit, no matter where it is. I remember reading an article once about Equatorial Guinea that was titled something like “The Worst Country in the World” – and it did in fact sound terrible with no redeeming features at all. But something like that just builds up the intrigue for me and attracts me more to find out what it’s really like and get under the skin of it and the people there.

    3. What is the craziest travel story you have?

    Too many to mention! I’ve been arrested, attempted to hide in a British Embassy, attacked in the desert, had my bus ambushed, been unwittingly involved with smugglers and many more! Maybe not the craziest experience, but certainly one of my worst was a couple of years ago whilst taking a group of tourists into North Korea. It was February when it’s pretty cold anyway over there, but the week that we travelled, they were hit by a particularly cold spell. At that time, I used to take tourists in on a local train to give them a more unique experience of North Korea and the ability to mix and interact with locals. This tended to be one of the highlights of the trip for many past clients. But not this time. The train broke down with the temperature at -20C, dropping as low as -30 at one point. There was no heating on the train at all. No one had any idea what was happening or if anyone would ever come to fix it. Our guides were trying to keep it together but the looks of despair on their faces were increasing by the hour. The cold was indescribable. It was like nothing I’d experience before. We had our rucksacks emptied to put on as many clothes as we could to keep us warm, but the bitter cold was so biting that it didn’t seem to make any difference. Everyone was huddled together but it just kept getting colder and colder. I tried to go to sleep to make the pain of the cold go away, but I then started to wonder if I would ever wake up. Serious thoughts of dying started to enter my head. We were stuck in the middle of nowhere in North Korea. It was pitch black and we couldn’t see a thing on the train or out of the windows. It was like an awful nightmare that you couldn’t wake yourself up from. Thankfully after 13 long hours the train chugged back into action again. I don’t think I thawed out until I got back to China after the trip. The one good thing about it is that due to further problems with the train over the next couple of days, we weren’t able to take it back out of the country so they put us on a bus instead. We travelled through small towns and tiny villages that were normally closed of to tourists so we got to have a really unique insight into a part of North Korea that has been unseen by Western eyes before.

    4. How long do you plan for a trip?

    It depends. Sometimes I can spend weeks or months planning for trips. The planning can be just as exciting as the actual travelling. But on occasions I will just go somewhere without any kind of planning whatsoever. Some of my best travel experiences have been those that have been completely off the cuff and I’ve just turned up, met some friendly locals and spent the duration with them in places that planning would get you nowhere near to. But then other times, it can be truly miserable when you’re wandering the streets in the rain failing miserably to find anywhere to stay or to eat!

    4. Where are you visiting next?

    Next week I’m travelling to North Korea with a group tour I’m running. I’ll be stopping off in Düsseldorf en route for one night and then a night in Beijing before travelling across to Pyongyang by train. On the way back I’m stopping for a couple of days in Dandong and then before heading home I’ll be taking a detour to Tokyo for a 3 night stay and my first visit to Japan.

    5. Do you prefer to travel alone or with friends / tours?

    I like all three and have no real preference between all of them so like to mix it up. Travelling with friends is always great fun, you know you’re pretty much guaranteed a good time. Travelling alone, you never know quite how it’s going to turn out but it adds to the excitement. I tend to find the travel experience more rewarding when you’re on your own as you’re in a situation where you have to interact more with locals and this can lead to all kinds of great experiences. I used to hate group tours, but I now find myself organising them! So the group tours I go on now are generally those of my own. But I find them great as well as the type of places I offer tours to, tend to attract travellers with a similar type of mindset so the trips always make for great conversation and often long lasting friendships afterwards.

    6. How many times do you update your blog?

    Before I set up Lupine Travel I was always travelling for pleasure and used to have a personal blog that I updated every time I travelled which was generally every couple of months. That tailed off as I started running tours myself but I do occasionally write guest blogs for various sites. As of this September though I’ll be launching a blog section on the Lupine site and will be hopefully updating that after every tour!

    7. Have you ever felt unsafe on any of your travels?

    Yes, on many occasions! This tends to happen more and more now as I scout out new destinations to offer as tours – I have to go through all the bad stuff and find what needs to be avoided so that my clients don’t have to! I’ve had a couple of heart in mouth moments in Colombia, but generally the feeling of danger is just a unfamiliarity with the area, especially when arriving late at night somewhere when it’s dark. My first trip to Iraq, I was dropped off a bus at 3:00 in the morning at a junction between Dohuk and Mosul. Although all the research I’d done assured me Kurdish Iraq was safe, I couldn’t help but have a sense of impending doom wash over me. The streets were eerily quiet and a nervous 30 minutes ensued before I found somewhere to stay, but as is usually the case, everything was fine and after waking up the next day and seeing the place in the day light, I soon felt perfectly safe.

    8. If the FCO (Or relevant Government advisory in your country) advised against going to a country would you go or be too worried of the consequences?

    I certainly take their advice on board but I prefer to research other sources as well such as media reports, blogs, forums and on the ground reports from locals as it can quite often be very wide of the mark. For example, the current advice on Iran which advises against all but essential travel to the whole country, which is completely ludicrous. I know this is mainly due to the fact there is no longer an Embassy in Iran but it truly is one of the safest places in the world you can visit with unbelievably friendly people. The FCO advice is completely inaccurate.

    9. How many countries have you been to so far?

    I’ve been to 72 countries, but I’ve not seen any of Australasia yet and very little of South and Central America, so those are big gaps that I’m itching to fill. I’m hoping to visit those regions in depth at some point in the not too distant future.

    10. Which destination do you believe will become the “next big thing” in travel?

    I think Russia has massive potential but there are currently too many issues, such as the visa process and price as well as the current political situation. Many people have a certain preconception of what Russia is like but generally people are unaware of how diverse the country is and how each city is so different to the other. As well as cities like St Petersburg and Moscow there are other incredible cities that some people are completely unaware of such as Kazan with its huge old centre that is a UNESCO heritage site. Then there’s Irkutsk and the nearby Lake Baikal which is one of the most beautiful places on earth. High speed rail links are currently being built between a lot of major Russian cities which will rapidly cut travelling times down and should start opening them up to tourism more. I think they have a great opportunity to showcase what their country has to offer in 2018 for the next world cup and if they can solve their problems with the West by then, I’m certain it will become a major tourist destination.

    • Thanks for replying Dylan. Truly inspiring, also we are very similar in terms of visiting “dangerous” countries and the thinking behind these regions. I look forward to hearing more about your crazy North Korean adventure haha

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